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Blackhawks 2, Kings 1

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- The Madhouse on Madison rocked and the Chicago Blackhawks rolled Saturday afternoon, opening the NHL Western Conference Finals with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Chicago has now won its last four games in the postseason, including rallying from a 3-1 series deficit in the semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Kings, meanwhile, even though they defeated San Jose in the semis to advance, have lost four of their past six playoff games, certainly not a harbinger of good things to come.

In both the opening and final periods, Los Angeles appeared as if it was lost at times, or at the very least suffering some serious jet lag.

That lack of spirit gave Chicago numerous opportunities for shots without the Kings mounting much of a defensive presence. The only saving grace for LA was goalie Jonathan Quick, who turned away 34 of the Hawks' 36 shots on goal in a game that Chicago outshot LA 36-22, including 17-2 in the first period.

But in the end, the most important thing for the Blackhawks was outscoring its opponent and taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven game series. Game 2 is Sunday night in Chicago.

Marian Hossa scored the winning goal in the second period for the Blackhawks.

Ironically, while both the Kings and Hawks are known for playing more of a finesse game, the Blackhawks were clearly the aggressors for much of the match, acting as if they were still playing the Red Wings.

After the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings took a 1-0 lead in the first, Chicago rallied with two scores of its own in the second period.

The Kings got on the scoreboard first, at 14:23 of the first period, when Justin Williams grabbed a loose puck and sent it past the left side of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.

Williams' fifth goal of the playoffs was a result of a breakdown in the Blackhawks' defense, which let the puck get loose and right onto Williams' stick.

Chicago dominated the Kings in first period shots on goal (17-2), but the Kings had the more important advantage on the scoreboard at 1-0.

By the end of the second period, the Hawks had increased their margin in shots to 31-14.

Chicago's Patrick Sharp, who has become the Blackhawks' most prolific scorer in the playoffs, tied the score at 12:29 with his team-leading eighth goal of the postseason.

A shot by Chicago's Johnny Oduya bounced off the left pad of Quick, and Sharp was in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the rebound and tie the score 1-1.

At 16:22, Duncan Keith's slap shot bounced off Hossa, who quickly turned and slipped the loose puck past Quick for his sixth goal of the playoffs and a 2-1 lead.

NOTES: This is only second time the Hawks have met the Kings in the playoffs. They also met in the 1974 quarterfinals, which the Hawks won 4-1. Chicago won this year's regular season series 2-1. ... Kings coach Darryl Sutter both played for (1979-87) and coached (1992-95) the Blackhawks. Sutter was fired after the lockout-shortened season in 1995, even though he took the Hawks to the third round of the playoffs after losing in the first round in each of the previous two seasons. ... To reach the conference finals, the Kings defeated St. Louis 4-2 and San Jose 4-3. The Blackhawks defeated Minnesota 4-1 and Detroit 4-3, coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the latter series. ... Because of United Center scheduling issues with Monday's Rolling Stones concert, there's a quick turnaround for Game 2, which takes place Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. The series moves to Los Angeles for Games 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday. If necessary, Game 5 is back in Chicago on Saturday. ... Coming into Game 1, Quick had stopped 362-of-382 shots (.948 save percentage) and 1.50 GAA in 13 playoff games, and Crawford had stopped 316 of 337 shots (.938) and a 1.70 GAA in 12 playoff games. ... Attendance was 21,535.
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